Human Dignity

A sign for Santa

It had been a long day.  I was tired, and ready to go home. But home would have to wait for now. A little Christmas miracle was just around the corner, waiting to be born.

Volunteering at our local library was a great way for my wife and me to get to know some of the people in our little community. It was also a means of sharing and giving, and a way to feel appreciated in some small manner. Today we had helped with a community Christmas party. I had played the part of Santa.

Now the kids were all gone, and it was time for Santa to go into the back room and transform, once again, into plain old me. But Christmas miracles don’t always follow our plans and timetables, not even for the man in red.

Knock, knock, knock.

“Yes,” I said, as I finally got out of the old, worn-out Santa suit.  It did not fit right—loose where it should be tight, snug where it should be baggy. It was unseasonably warm that day. I was soaked with perspiration, weary, and ready to go home.

“Gary, there is a little boy out here who wants to see Santa,” my wife said in her best upbeat voice. Then she whispered through the partially opened door, “Gary, he’s deaf.”

I would have put the suit back on for any kid. But, being disabled myself, and having five disabled children who often feel “left out,” and since I know sign language, well—how could I refuse?

“I’ll be right there,” I said as I started putting back on the stuffy old suit.

A few minutes later, Santa came out the door and walked up behind Dewey. The lady who brought him to the library whispered, “You can just give him some candy and he’ll be happy enough.”

Santa simply looked over the rim of his glasses and smiled with a wink. Taking Dewey by the hand, Santa led the young, beaming boy to the big chair then plopped him up on Santa’s knee.

“What is your name?” Santa asked with his white-gloved hands. Dewey could not answer! He was so shocked that he jumped down and ran to the friend that brought him.

“He signs, he talks like me!” Dewey signed with so much excitement and enthusiasm that Santa could hardly keep up.

“My name is Santa,” Santa signed to Dewey, trying, rather futilely, to keep this young man somehow on track. Finally, after several false starts, Dewey sat still long enough for Santa to have a real conversation with him.

Santa and Dewey spent the next 15 minutes talking about whatever it was that little Dewey wanted to talk about. Then it was time for Dewey to go home.

As Dewey took his peppermint stick, Santa made the sign for “I love you” as he smiled at the bouncy little boy with the dancing eyes. Then Dewey’s friend took him by the hand and they walked out into the darkness of night. Before he walked out the door, though, Dewey looked behind him, and signed, “I love you,” back to Santa.

Santa sat there for just a moment. Somehow, he did not seem so tired anymore. The old suit did not fit any better, but now it did not matter. Somehow the Christmas holidays made a little more sense and seemed just a bit brighter for the old man in red.

“He signs, he talks like me!” Dewey signed with so much enthusiasm that Santa could hardly keep up.

Santa soon became me, again, and I left that night with a joy I had not known in quite some time.

I see Dewey and his parents around town from time to time. He does not know who I am, but I know who he is, and what he did for me.

Dewey’s friend works just down the road from where we live. She keeps me updated on Santa’s little friend. This past Christmas, Dewey was not able to come to the library to see Santa. So, Santa found out where he lives and went to see Dewey. But Dewey wasn’t home—his parents had taken him out of town for the holidays.

This young man had helped me out of a slump. He had loved purely and completely. He simply showed his heart as it radiated out of his hands. I had to do something for this little boy, but what?

Christmas miracles are not easily discouraged. A little thought, a little creativity, and with the aid of one of Santa’s own little “elves,” Santa grabbed the old Polaroid and returned to Dewey the “I love you” sign he had given the year before. We left it on his door, and went home for our own Christmas celebration.

I can hardly wait to see what happens this Christmas!

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About the author

Gary Walden

Gary Walden is a freelance writer and Baptist minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Overton, Tex. He and his wife Gina home school their five “special needs” children.